Thursday, November 26, 2009

Knowland Family - Publishers; GOP Politicians

[Photos of Knowland burial sites by Michael Colbruno; Images of Joseph & Emelyn from the Oakland Tribune; William F. Knowland from Time magazine]

William F. Knowland (1908 – 1974) Main Mausoleum M8J N2 T1

Born in 1908 in Alameda, California, Bill Knowland grew up in a household devoted to two entities: the Republican party and the Oakland Tribune, the newspaper owned and operated by his family. As a young child, he witnessed the workings of Congress firsthand. From 1903 to 1914, his father, Joseph R. Knowland, served in the House of Representatives. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley in 1929, Bill Knowland co-published the Tribune as he pursued his own career in politics. In 1932, at the age of twenty four, he won election to the California state assembly. Three years later, Knowland entered the state senate. At the same time, he became an active member of the Republican National Committee and assumed a top leadership position in 1941.

World War II briefly interrupted Knowland's political career. Drafted into the army, he attained the rank of major after officer training at Fort Benning, GA. In 1945, Knowland was serving in France as a military writer when Senator Hiram Johnson died, leaving California a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. Joe Knowland, a major campaign contributor, had the Republican Governor Earl Warren appoint his son to the remainder of Johnson's term. Bill Knowland took an honorable discharge and rushed to Washington to be sworn in. He assumed his seat on August 26 and, the next year, won the election for a full six-year term. In 1952, Knowland ran on both the Republican and the Democratic ticket to easily win his reelection to the Senate. The same election brought Republican Dwight Eisenhower to the White House and gave the Republicans control of the Senate,

In 1953, the convergence of unusual circumstances gave the Democrats the plurality of the Senate's membership while the Senate Republicans maintained their majority party status. The situation made it impossible for the new Republican leader to control the legislative agenda. Indeed, Senator William Knowland lamented his ineffectiveness on the Senate floor, "Mr. President, . . . I have the responsibilities of being the majority leader in this body without having a majority." The minority leader, Lyndon Johnson, shot back, "If anyone has more problems than a majority leader with a minority, it is a minority leader with a majority." Though witty, the retort was hardly accurate. Johnson had few difficulties handling the Senate or trumping the nominal majority leader.

When the Democrats took back the chamber in 1955, Knowland became the Senate minority leader. He had one notable success in this position: he was the floor manager for the bill that became the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the first major legislation to address voter intimidation in the South. Johnson, however, took both the credit and the criticism for the Senate amendments that significantly curtailed the bill's intent.

A half century later, few people outside of Northern California recall his name, let alone know that William Knowland led the Senate for less than one term between the more impressive reigns of Robert Taft and Johnson. Political historians rarely acknowledge the former senator except to point out the obvious: Knowland was no Taft. He was no Johnson. He was no Everett Dirksen, his successor to the position of Republican leader. Still, Knowland made his mark on the Senate, standing firm on Cold War foreign policy even in opposition to his party. In an attempt to fulfill his presidential aspirations, however, he left the institution prematurely. Later termed a "political suicide," the act foreshadowed a more tragic display of self destruction.

Humorless and "bullheaded," Knowland built his reputation on his role in post-war foreign policy. Following a trip to the Far East, he focused his attention on China, defending its nationalist government against the communist regime. An adamant member of the "China lobby," he opposed the country's entrance into the United Nations after the fall of Chiang Kai-shek.

Knowland decided not to campaign for reelection in 1958, as he hoped to eventually run for the presidency and believed that he had a better chance at the White House if he first served as California's governor. After a rough primary, Knowland lost the gubernatorial election by more than a million votes. His political career essentially dead, the former Senate leader resumed his publishing duties at the Oakland Tribune. In later years, he worked for the economic development of the Bay Area while his personal life dismantled around him. Heavily in debt and facing a second divorce, Knowland died in 1974, the apparent victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
[Bio excerpted from the United States Senate website]

Joseph Russell Knowland (1873 – 1966) Plot 13, Lot 62

A native of Alameda, Joseph R. Knowland was educated in Alameda schools, the John Hopkins School in Oakland, and the University of the Pacific, at the time located in San Jose.

After graduation, he entered his father’s business, wholesale lumber and shipping, and in 1898 when he was 25, he was elected to the California State Assembly where he served for two sessions. Next, he was elected to the State Senate and became chairman of its Banking Committee, followed by service in the U. S. Congress from 1904 to 1915, where he secured significant funds to improve Oakland’s harbor and the Tidal Canal.

On his retirement from public office in 1915 he became publisher of the Oakland Tribune where he used his voice for the next fifty years to push for good government. He conducted a study of the administration of justice in California that led to the enactment of four initiatives creating the State Department of Justice. Over a period of some sixty years as chairman of the Historic Landmarks Committee of the Native Sons of the Golden West, he visited virtually every spot of historical interest in the state, dedicating plaques and monuments to designate them for posterity. He played a leading role in the effort to preserve and restore California’s missions, and was Chairman of the State Park Commission from 1937 until he retired in 1960.

He served on the boards of several companies including the Associated Press, where he was a director for 28 years. At one time or another he was President of the California Historical Society and was the long-time chairman of the State Board of Beaches and Parks. He was an inductee into the California Newspaper Hall of Fame.

(Information courtesy of the California Newspaper Hall of Fame)

Emelyn Knowland (1884-1950) – Wife of Congressman; Mother of U.S. Senator

Emelyn West Knowland was born Craddockville, Virginia to a family that dates back to Colonial America and included governors of the state.

In 1908 she married then Congressman Joseph R. Knowland. Until 1915, the Knowland had homes in both Washington D.C. and Alameda, California. They later moved to their permanent resident at 25 Sea View Avenue in Piedmont.

She was a board member of the Women’s Athletic Club and the Ladies Relief Society of Oakland.

Her sons were United States William F. Knowland and Joseph R. Knowland, Jr., the assistant publisher of the Oakland Tribune.

[Bio by Michael Colbruno]

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